Darwin's Devices

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The Book Struts & Frets

May 30th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Book Struts & Frets

Check out this image: Darwin’s Devices is listed under “Hot Books,” on Barnes & Noble’s home page!

Okay, honesty check.  It’s not listed any more.  I took this screen shot on May 25th.  Poof.  Then Darwin’s Devices was gone.  A brief flare goes up, and then burns out.  “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”  And, yes, I’m aware that MacBeth’s next line is about a tale told by an idiot.  I’ll own that.  (Note:  publishers talk about the “life” of a book…)

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The Book Gets Picked

April 25th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Book Gets Picked

The magazine, New Scientist, selected Darwin’s Devices as one of its top five books for the Spring.  Thank you, NS!  And you can get all five books for free if you subscribe to New Scientist now…  (back-stratching alert!).


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The Book Transmogrifies

April 17th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Book Transmogrifies

By laws of physics that I still seek to comprehend, Darwin’s Devices has transmogrified itself from paper to electrons.  If you wish to experience this process for yourself, I strongly encourage you to whip out your Kindle and make the magic happen!

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The Book Spotted in Stores

April 4th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Book Spotted in Stores

It’s on the shelves!  Our embedded field reporter, Dr. Marianne Porter, took this exclusive image of Darwin’s Devices, four copies, lurking on the shelves of the Barnes & Noble in Boca Raton, Florida.  Authorities refused to comment about the placement of the book near volumes attending to clones and zombies.  One by-stander, who asked to kept anonymous, pondered the possible secret connection between Napolean’s buttons, the God particle, and Darwin’s Devices:  might they all refer to the same thing?

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The Book Arrives…

March 27th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Book Arrives…

It’s great to hear that you are getting the books.  Now comes the hard part:  letting me know what you think, honestly.   My cousin, over the phone today, asked permission to, “Skip over the technical parts.”  By all means:  don’t let the science get in the way!

I’d love to have pictures of you reading the book, if you dare.  Karl von Valtier, commercial pilot and photographer, sent this one along.

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The Book Ships!

March 18th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Book Ships!

Shipping news:  Amazon is sending updates today (18 March 2012) to those of you who kindly pre-ordered Darwin’s Devices.  They expect the book to arrive at your door between March 23 and March 27.  These are, to my knowledge, the first commercially available copies.  Cowabunga!

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The Book

January 25th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Book

Darwin’s Devices:  What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology.

The book will be published April 3, 2012, by Basic Books.  Pre-order it now from your favorite bookseller.

The intended audience:  fun-loving nerds who want to learn something cool about science (non-specialist).

  From the cover flap:

What happens when we let robots play the game of life?

The challenge of studying evolution is that the history of life is buried in the past—we can’t witness the dramatic events that shaped the adaptations we see today. But biorobotics expert John Long has found an ingenious way to overcome this problem: he creates robots that look and behave like extinct animals, subjects them to evolutionary pressures, lets them compete for mates and resources, and mutates their ‘genes’. In short, he lets robots play the game of life.

In Darwin’s Devices, Long tells the story of these evolving biorobots—how they came to be, and what they can teach us about the biology of living and extinct species. Evolving biorobots can replicate creatures that disappeared from the earth long ago, showing us in real time what happens in the face of unexpected environmental challenges: biomechanically correct models of backbones, for example, can help us understand why the first vertebrates evolved them…

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